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Dennis Wright pictured in Clarmorris Dennis Wright via
back to basics

The home of the future? One man’s vision

A stonemason and thatcher in Co Mayo has revealed his vision for building a home that independent of fossil fuels and free from pollution.

STONEMASON AND THATCHER Dennis Wright has outlined his vision for the home of the future – one that works in harmony with its environment and is completely carbon neutral.

Wright has put together a plan for sustainable housing, called the Greenpeat Plan, which he says could create a development using sustainable materials and construction tools, which would help to purify polluted groundwater using liners for natural reedbed filtration of dangerous toxins and leave a zero carbon footprint.

The first step of the plan would be to show the viability of the scheme by constructing a circular building in a Mayo bog using only natural and sustainable materials – around which green ventures would eventually be built, such as the establishment of a series of narrow canals to carry goods.

Speaking to, Wright said his plan involved houses being built of coppiced timber, rather than mature trees and cement-based materials, and also including cob – a building material made up of compacted straw and clay. ”In the UK, building built with cob are still standing after many hundreds of years,” Wright explained. “It allows a building to stay dry and breathe”.

Coppicing, a traditional method of woodland management, sees trees harvested in sections and is known to create a rich variety of habitats for wildlife.

Wright said the plan would include modern comforts and standards – such as rocket stoves inside – while avoiding the waste of fossil fuels and production of excess carbon.

Traditional methods

Wright first developed an interest in thatching and stonemasonry in Lancashire, England, before bringing his building and roofing skills to Ireland. He says that traditional materials and construction methods have not only proved they can stand the test of time, but could be the future in terms of energy and sustainability concerns:

“Everything we do with modern materials – even slate for roofing – causes an enormous amount of pollution. We also use a lot of fossil fuels” he said. “This isn’t just a whim: it’s essential for the future”.

The home of the future? One man’s vision
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  • The Reed Bed

  • Reed Stems

  • Cutting reed

  • Cutting Reed

  • Cut Stems Ready for Tying

  • Close-Up of Hazel

  • Rye straw bobbins

  • Ready for the comb

  • Bobbins ready for sparring on with hazel

  • Rethatching complete

Wright said constructing sustainable homes was not just beneficial to the environment but also made financial and economic sense. He estimated the cost to build a house from such locally-sourced materials described at a maximum of €5,000, pointing out that the need to import materials for the job would be wiped out.

The export-potential of low-cost, sustainable building materials and the labour intensive nature of building would also stimulate employment, he said.

What do you think of the plan – could it work? Let us know in our poll and comments section below:

Poll Results:

Yes (436)
No (94)
I don't know (64)

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